The Crumbling Fourth Pillar of Democracy

PodiumImage18.02.16Vandita Naroola, Product Manager at Skribe, blogger and avid reader takes a stance on journalists being soft targets for violence in India.

Intolerance and anti-national seem to be buzzwords in the country at this time and the definition of free speech is easily moulded to suit the reality of people in power. The open assault on journalists at JNU this week along with recurring accounts of crime against journalists reported last year in September and October are proof why India ranked 14th on the Impunity Index report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was Asia’s deadliest country for media personnel in 2015.

This leads us to believe that we being the largest democracy in the world hardly work at providing a safe and conducive work environment to the fourth pillar of democracy – media and press.

In the case of JNU students shouting anti-Indian slogans at a meeting on February 9th, expressing solidarity with Kashmiris, which had them booked on sedition charges, freedom of speech was found deeply compromised.

Even though the Student Union and all leftists groups at JNU strongly criticized the sloganeering, the Delhi Police decided to make a statement by arresting Student Union President, Kanhaiya Kumar for sedition, based on complaints by BJP MP Maheish Girri and BJP’s student wing ABVP.

The Police, law enforcers, did nothing to uphold the law, when several journalists reporting at the Patiala House Court on Monday, where Kanhaiya was presented, were beaten up and abused by a group of lawyers. Top editors of national media and hundreds of journalists staged a protest, walking from the Press Club to the Supreme Court, demanding action against the clear violation of democratic rights. The journalists submitted a memorandum to the apex court’s Registrar seeking cancellation of licenses of lawyers involved in the assault.

Not easily extinguished, the fire bellowed stronger yesterday when Kanhaiya, who has been detained in judicial custody till March 2nd, was battered by some lawyers in court. A journalist and a student were also alleged collateral damage in the repeated violence.

Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Arun Jaitley, tweeted in support of the media saying they have an unhindered right to report and attacks against them are highly condemnable. Still, the appalling state of affairs in this matter needs immediate rectification.

The two critical instruments for preserving harmony – the State Police and the Government need to take firm action against this absolute abuse of power and public sentiment. We will not be walked over by people bowing to the whims of politicians. Don’t be a mute spectator, make your voice heard.

Day Of Reckoning

Trending-Image02.02.16Demonstrations and vigils are being held by gay rights organizations ahead of the SC ruling that could decriminalize homosexuality. A ruling that could be life-changing for many, read what the activists have to say. » An RSS linked weekly newspaper ‘Organiser’ has attempted to justify the tradition of women being banned from entering the inner sanctum of the Shani Shingnapur temple. Although favouring a resolution of the dispute via ‘respect dialogue’, the newspaper went on to say that the Hindu way of life is always made a convenient target. » Even Gods are not beyond legal scrutiny! A case in Bihar has been filed against Lord Ram for ill-treating his wife Sita when she was exiled. “The Devi was exiled (given ‘vanvasa’) for no fault of hers. It was a hypocritical order from king Rama. How can a man become so cruel to his wife that he sends her off to live in a forest?” a report quoted Thakur Chandan Kumar Singh, the plaintiff. » Bajaj Auto is skipping this year’s Auto Expo citing high costs. The company which unveiled its latest bike ‘V’ on Monday at an event costing Rs. 5 lakh said that the same at the Expo would cost Rs. 5 crore.

Respite For Red FM

MediaWatch-Image02.02.16.jpgRed FM seemed to have gained some respite with the apex court’s ruling in the FM auctions matter. The Supreme Court dismissed the government’s plea against the Delhi HC decision, who had ruled in favor of the channel last year. “A company could not be barred from participating in an auction merely on the ground that some of its shareholders (Maran family in the Aircel-Maxis case) were facing criminal action”, SC said. » Zee Digital Convergence Limited’s OTT platform DittoTV gets precedence over TV. With a new feature called ‘before TV’ viewers will be able to watch content from the Zee Group channels before it is aired. This aligns with Zee’s continued focus on content and service innovations for the consumers. » Films Division’s agreement with DD Bharati has been extended. Now FD will telecast documentaries on Doordarshan’s cultural channel for two more years. “The agreement may be extended if the slots prove popular,” said FD Director General Mukesh Sharma. » ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 38 out of 70 advertisements in November 2015. Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Patanjali Ayurved Limited were few of the errant ones in latest tally of misleading ads on the idiot box.

War Over #DelhiOddEvenLogic

Trending-Image11.12Chetan Bhagat found himself in the midst of criticizm on Twitter, AGAIN! Criticizing the government’s idea to exempt women from #DelhiOddEvenLogic, he argued that men are equally exposed to the risk of getting “robbed and killed”. The trolling began when Arvind Kejriwal retweeted two tweets mocking Bhagat, to which the latter lashed back. » Salman Khan, yesterday was acquitted of all charges by the Bombay High Court in relation to his hit-and-run case and Twitter exploded. The micro-blogging site was far from giving the actor a clean chit; amongst the angst and anger there were also a lot of hilarious puns and jokes. Have a look. » Pakistan’s media has welcomed the revival of the Indo-Pak dialogue. The decision to resume talks taken by Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani leaders has been described as a “major breakthrough” and a pleasant turn in bilateral ties following three top level meetings in 10 days. » The SC has upheld the Haryana Panchayati Raj Amendment Act, 2015, making minimum educational qualification and “basic norms of hygiene” as a pre-requisite for contesting panchayat polls. Making it mandatory for general, women and Dalit candidates to pass 10th, 8th, and 5th standard respectively.

Airtel Leads 4G Race

Trending-Image07.8India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel becomes the first company to offer commercial high speed 4G services in 269 towns in the country. Ramping up its 4G push ahead of the anticipated entry of Reliance Industries, the company has also announced a range of strategic initiatives as part of its roll out (Read More). » Expressing concerns over misuse of social media and the internet, the Supreme Court has stressed the need for a new law to regulate and curb malicious and defamatory messages being circulated online. After the controversial quashing of Section 66A of the IT Act, the court had agreed that there was a need for some mechanism to put checks and balances on online media. » Group of Presidents (GOP) debate for 2016 U.S President’s election on Thursday was hosted by Fox News Channel and co-hosted by Facebook. The debate featured 10 leading nominees for the election event and concluded with Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO, as a front runner. Twitter was stormed with #HappyHourDebate declaring the winner even before the debate was over.

Font Style BOLD

WPSelvi J Jayalalithaa’s self-promotion is not being held back by the Supreme Court’s order to ban images of politicians in Government ads.  The Tamil Nadu government today released front-page ads in all major newspapers celebrating the triumphant return of J Jayalalitha as CM.  In bold fonts no less, stating “under the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Puratachi Thalaivi, Selvi J Jayalalithaa – Glorious Rule of Four Years Amma’s Rule Forever.” India’s other CMs weren’t far behind either, grabbing eyeballs riding on the Modi bandwagon congratulating the PM on his first year in office.  The ads carried images of the PM and the names of Ministers in BOLD letters.

No Piggy Back Ads

Capture.JPG1The Supreme Court laid down new ground rules for government ads to curb ‘personality cult’ and gross wastage of public funds. The Apex court instructed that only images of Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice can be used in any kind of government advertisement. Modi arrives in China’s Xian as part of his tri-nation tour. Departing from protocol, President Xi gives Modi the highest level of reception by receiving Modi outside Beijing. The summit will discuss the festering border dispute between two countries.